THE STORY OF : THE CORDELIA RINGS
THE DESIGN & STORY OF THE CORDELIA RINGS
The CORDELIA rings are my own engagement ring and our wedding rings - they are infused with details that evoke all our happiest memories and things we love. They are also the reason I have relaunched SEPTEMBER ROSE in September 2019 after over three years of hibernation.
The most difficult aspect of designing my own ring was knowing where to begin with the design and making sure it was something that did justice to the beautiful gemstones that I had the privilege of being able to set into my engagement ring. It was an incredibly daunting challenge!
THE STORY OF THE GEMSTONES
I had chosen the absolutely stunning teal sapphire (sourced from the Nyala mine in Malawi) as the centre stone because I had become more than a little bit obsessed with the beautiful colours of the sea on our first visit to Cornwall many years ago. The way the light changed the hues of the water from darkest blue through teal to almost clear blue was pure magic as far as I was concerned so I had wanted to try and find a gemstone that captured at least the essence of this. I explained all this to my lovely gemstone lady and she went away to search her treasure trove. When I looked through the gemstones she had selected there was one stone that instantly stood out. It appeared as though someone had crystallised the Cornish sea and as the light around it changed so did its hues in almost exactly the same way as the water had done on that wonderful and special holiday. I knew I had found my stone and felt incredibly lucky to have such a beautiful gemstone.
Five of the six diamonds were originally set in my maternal Grandmother’s engagement ring - a ring that captivated me as a child and a piece of jewellery that was very much part of her story and that of her family. My Grandfather had it made for her in a beautiful triple platinum setting - a style that was very popular in the 1930’s. Later for their 40th wedding anniversary he secretly had two diamonds added to it under the ruse of taking it to be cleaned and polished for their party. The addition of these two diamonds was so that there would be a diamond to represent each member of their family - my grandmother, grandfather, my mother and her two elder brothers. My grandmother wore it every day and it was resized multiple times as her fingers became increasingly addled by arthritus.
I cried every day for weeks when I found out she had bequeathed this most sentimental and precious piece of jewellery to me and that it was her wish for me to use the stones in my own engagement ring one day. I wore her ring everyday until the shank failed along one of the solder joins from one of the many resizes. When I took it to Jo, she discovered the reason for the failure - one of the jewellers who had resized it had used white gold solder instead of platinum! To say I was unimpressed was an understatement! But it was ultimately what led us to think that we should really get married after over 11 years together as diamonds like that shouldn’t be left in a broken ring. So a blessing in disguise…the white gold lining if you like ; )
…EVOLVING THE IDEA
Months of sketching and creating CAD models turned into years and still nothing was quite right. I was going through a huge crisis of confidence in my ability to design jewellery at the time and had hibernated SEPTEMBER ROSE because of it. I wasn’t getting anywhere so I called Jo - she has an amazing ability to understand my rambles and declutter my overthinking. We sat down around a big table and had a long and very productive chat over tea and cake (the foundation of any good friendship and business relationship!!) which resulted in the basic scribbles of what eventually became Cordelia. Over the next week or so we created a basic CAD model of a ring shank that we cast in silver and then spent a day in her studio cutting, filing and hammering it into the beginnings of an idea.
This idea is based around sea spray, the way light dances off the surface of water, waves, flower buds, water bubbles, tree branches all with a hint of art deco styling. After a couple of months of evolving the concept and forms CORDELIA emerged.
I have positioned the centre stone (my beautiful teal sapphire) at a 60˚ angle so that both the engagement ring and wedding ring have a wave profile in plan view. In addition to the beautiful sapphire my lovely husband also bought me an additional diamond to match the largest of my grandmother’s diamonds meaning that each one had a pair and continuing the tradition of adding a stone to represent each person who is part of the ring’s story. The diamonds are each set in their own buds whose form also represents water bubbles or sea spray and explains the pattern they are set in - a fluid curve that is reminiscent of the spray that accompanies rolling waves. The water and sea elements evoke memories of holidays spent by the sea and the lovely walks we’ve shared with our crazy spaniels. The buds are because I have a facination with them and what they represent, the beginning of something beautiful that will bloom given the right conditions and care - which seeemed like a good thing to incorporate into an engagement ring to me… The art deco elements are in part reference to when my grandmother’s original ring was made and part pure self indulgence because I love art deco designs. The remaining element of the concept - tree branches is incorporated into the sapphire setting. My husband and I have many happy memories of beautiful forest walks with our furry monsters and I’ve always enjoyed tracing the lines of the bows of great old trees, the elegant way they divide from the main trunk and other branches. This is how I’ve quite literally branched the claw setting which holds my sapphire away from the main shank in a continuous arc.
I designed my wedding ring to stack with my engagement ring so designed it simultaneously - when I asked my husband what he wanted for his wedding ring he took one look and my CAD screen and said “I’d like a scaled up version of your wedding ring please ” which made my job pretty simple!
Clients and people I meet at exhibitions often ask me how I know when a design is done and my answer is this; when it goes quiet…this may sound a little odd but there is always something that niggles and nags at me when I look at it and it’s not finished, when it is finished it goes quiet and doesn’t nag or niggle. Cordelia is the strongest example of this that I have yet experienced. It niggled at me for literally years until it finally was peaceful.
I had to push my CAD skills to a whole new level to realise the concept and enable me to create the elegant and flowing lines that I imagined for it. It is without doubt the most intricate and complicated CAD model I have ever built (at that includes my years of designing aerodynamic components for racing cars!). It also is the design that snapped me out of my design confidence crisis and made me realise how much I enjoy designing jewellery - to the extent that it convinced me that I should bring SEPTEMBER ROSE out of hibernation. So both personally and professionally it is a landmark design for me and I owe Jo a debt of gratitude because without her I would probably still be scratching my head over the design.